More and more Fortune 500 companies are turning their attention towards renewable energy and energy efficiency priorities, with almost half now boasting at least one type of climate or clean energy target, according to a new WWF report published this week.
The new report from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Ceres, Calvert Research and Management (Calvert), and the CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project) finds that Fortune 500 companies in America are increasingly taking steps to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, procure more renewable energy, and reduce their energy footprint through energy efficiency measures, despite the growing apathy stemming from the new Trump Administration. The report, Power Forward 3.0: How the largest U.S. companies are capturing business value while addressing climate change, finds that 63% of Fortune 100 companies have at least one clean energy target, and 48% of Fortune 500 Companies have at least one climate or clean energy target, up 5% from 2014.
Specifically, across the Fortune 500 companies, the primary action being taken is in regards to greenhouse gas emissions, with 211 companies, or 42%, boasting either an absolute or intensity-based emissions reduction target. Renewable energy targets are also increasing in popularity, with 53 Fortune 500 companies, or 10%, setting public targets in 2016. Of these companies setting renewable energy target, 23 companies have committed to 100% renewable energy targets, while 19 are signatories of 100% renewable energy initiative, RE100.
“American businesses are leading the transition to a clean economy because it’s smart business and it’s what their customers want,” said Marty Spitzer, World Wildlife Fund’s senior director of climate and renewable energy. “Clean energy is fueling economic opportunity from coast to coast without regard for party line. Washington policies may slow this boom, but these companies are making it very clear that a transition to a low-carbon economy is inevitable.”
No longer are such sustainable approaches to business being seen as strictly ethical in nature, with numerous economic benefits stemming from these projects. The report, based on disclosures made to CDP, found that nearly 80,000 emissions-reducing projects resulted in $3.7 billion in savings made by 190 companies in 2016 alone. On top of these economic benefits, companies also decreased their annual emissions by 155.7 million metric tonnes of CO2-equivalent.
“We are encouraged to see significant improvement in both the number of Fortune 500 companies setting climate and clean energy goals and the ambition of those goals — in particular commitments to setting science-based and 100 percent renewable energy targets,” said Anne Kelly, senior director of policy and the BICEP network at Ceres. “But in order to meet our national and global emissions goals, more companies will need to join the champions highlighted in this report, both in setting goals and in becoming vocal advocates for continued federal and state policies in support of climate and clean energy progress.”
The report also presents a number of key recommendations for companies, policymakers, investors, and the electricity sector:
- Companies should continue to set, implement and communicate clean energy targets, while supporting local, state and national policies that make it easier to achieve their climate and energy commitments.
- Federal and state policymakers should establish clear, long-term low-carbon polices that will help companies meet their clean energy targets while also helping the U.S. meet its carbon-reducing commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement.
- Investors should consider allocating their investments to companies well-positioned for the low-carbon economy. Investors should continue to file shareholder resolutions and engage in dialogues with companies to encourage them to set climate and energy efficiency targets and position themselves for a low-carbon future.
The full report is available here for more detailed information into the current methods being employed, the economic and ethical benefits, and the potential changes and recommendations for future improvement.
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